Depression with Anxiety is a lot more common than you think
You have depression with anxiety. Which came first? Or does it really matter as you need to deal with both. Depression tends to make you withdraw from life in a state of inactivity, and anxiety, on the other hand, revs you up in a state of hyper-vigilance and exhaustion.
If left untreated, these conditions appear to get worse. This should a great incentive to find help, now. Yes, as you get older there is an increased risk of getting ailments such as heart disease and creaky knees – but what about depression with anxiety?
A new report has found that as many as 1 in 5 American seniors (the same ratio probably applies to Canada too) has a mental health or substance abuse problem. The population is going to age rapidly over the next twenty years. It’s also a fact that millions of baby boomers may have a difficult time finding care and services for mental health problems such as depression with anxiety.
Part of the reason is that the country is very lacking in doctors, nurses and other types of health workers trained for older people’s special needs. This was mentioned in the Institute of Medicine report recently. “The burden of mental illness and substance abuse disorders in older adults in the United States borders on a crisis,” wrote Dr. Dan Blazer of Duke University. Blazer chaired the Institute of Medicine panel that investigated this important issue. He said, “Yet this crisis is largely hidden from the public and many of those who develop policy and programs to care for older people. “Remarkably, 5. 6 million to 8 million Americans between the ages of 65 and older have a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety, or both.
And substance abuse disorders are on this list as well, the report found. This is a conservative estimate that does not include a number of other disorders. Psychiatric symptoms and depressive disorders related to dementia are the most common. “While the panel could not make precise projections, those numbers are sure to grow as the number of seniors nearly doubles by 2030,” said report co-author Dr. Peter Rabins, a Johns Hopkins University psychiatrist.
How much substance abuse treatment for seniors and boomers will be needed? The rates of illegal drug use are higher in people currently in their 50s than in previous generations. Merely getting older does not make mental health problems more likely to occur, Rabins said, noting that middle age is the most common time for onset of depression. Occurrences of depression with anxiety, and other mental issues, in older adults, the report found, are often overlooked and are found to be more complex.
Physical health problems in people over 65 are common and these can mask their mental health needs. The physical illnesses, and medications used for them, also can complicate treatment. Older adults with untreated depression or anxiety are less likely to have their diabetes, high blood pressure and other physical conditions under control. Grief is very common in older people – spouses, relatives and friends die and they feel very alone. In this situation, it may be difficult to distinguish between grief and major depression or anxiety.
The report called for changes in how Medicaid and Medicare pay for mental health services. It recommends stricter licensing requirements for health workers, and called for the government to fund appropriate training programs.